by tom spooner
Urgency nowadays isn’t something to be excited about. We are urgent for all the wrong reasons. To pay a bill. To meet a deadline. To take control of a vast sum of money from a wealthy but unfortunate member of the Nigerian royal family. Urgency has become shorthand for hurry up or bad shit will happen.
Frog’s debut full-length album ‘Kind of Blah‘ is urgent in all the right ways though. It tumbles out of your speakers with an insatiable vitality, full of words that need to be said and stories that need to be told. Sitting somewhere between Dylan’s amphetamine-fuelled metaphorical dissections of America and a hoedown where someone’s spiked the moonshine, the Brooklyn duo have created a rare beast.
It all begins with the frayed psychedelia of All Dogs Go To Heaven that finds itself propelled by a compulsive rhythmical force, like that heard on The Dodos’ Visiter album. Next comes Fucking which is as frenzied as it is euphoric, climaxing with a gorgeous summery chorus. Later King Kong picks up the pace yet further with some frantic banjo playing and the promise to have you making love by the end of it.
Frog defy easy categorisation: their slacker-country-grunge ‘dosey dos’ around the more free-rolling of the Woodsist roster with all the irreverent energy of the Holy Mogul Rounders. A looseness and a lack of sharp definition pervades. Each song is built around fuzzy, scuzzy and occasionally woozy musical shapes; ideas layered one on top of the other.
On Kind of Blah, melodies, once buried deep, emerge to take you suddenly by surprise; playful teasing guitar lines work their way into your subconscious and all the while rhythms buoy you up and carry you drunkenly forward, laughing all the way. Lead single Judy Garland is the perfect encapsulation of Frog’s sound, bursting with imagery and cultural references, and rendered in glorious Technicolor.
And then there’s Dan Bateman’s voice. Often entering the fray high-pitched and purposeful, it then rises yet higher before bottoming out with a countrified twang – as intriguing and immediate as the words it delivers.
Kind of Blah is here to remind us that if we shuffle our priorities then life can be a dizzying kaleidoscope of experiences. The world out there is teaming with opportunity and we must be quick to grab it with two hands and a wide grin – consider it a matter of great urgency.
Buy the album here, via Audio Anithero
photo by andrew piccone